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    Thread: Understanding Dream Characters

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      Understanding Dream Characters

      My dream characters, for the most part are very real. Some I can positively identify but others are complete strangers, even though they have very real characteristics and personalities and interact with me in very specific and personal ways. I have read the advice to be wary of them in general as they can detract from lucidity.....do I have that right?

      But.....I truly believe that some of them are there with messages and/or lessons for me. They have been created by my subconscious and I suspect that they are made of the stuff of my deep experiences and knowledge. I guess the trick will be to figure out which ones to listen to as they may have what I have come here for.....insight into the deeper me and a balance to carry into my waking dream life.
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      I agree that they often represent aspects of yourself - often if you dream about a friend or a relative it can really be some part of yourself that reminds you of that person, of their defining characteristic. Example if your sister is really bossy, if you dream of her if could be just a dream about her or it could be your subconscious trying to tell you something about some bossy aspect of yourself.

      It can be a little tricky figuring this stuff out - I've found often the subconscious communicates in symbolic language. Personally I've had a lifelong interest in dreams and as an adult started to develop a parallel interest in psychology, and the best place those 2 interests coincide is in Jungian psychology. Jung is the only major psychologist who really understood and took an active interest in dreams and the unconscious, aside from Freud, who unfortunately developed his theory that everything comes down to childhood sexual problems. He was largely wrong, and it was Jung who corrected him, but Freud never accepted that fact and cast Jung out of his circle of friends, and the majority of the psychological community has remained devoted to Freudian ideas, or at least has disregarded Jung. Fortunately there is a line of very excellent Jungians who have continued and elaborated on his work, and for my money theirs is the way of understanding the deep meaning of dreams.

      I've been engaged in my own deep study of Jung's work for around a year and a half now I think, and detailing it on my C G Jung thread. It's grown pretty massive, at 19 pages now, but if you just want to learn the basics of how his theories relate to dreaming you only really need to learn about his Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, and in particular the 3 major archetypes which are the Shadow, the Anima or Animus, (depending on if you're a man or a woman), and the Self.

      One of his major breakthroughs was that dreams and the subconscious in general communicate largely through the same language as myths, fairy tales and the major religions, all of which were developed in pre-scientific times, and actually were coming from the deep unconscious (the Collective Unconscious). Wise people were seeing things that explained some of life's great mysteries in profound ways, and nobody was sure where these 'visions' were coming from, so they posited myths and Gods to explain it all. But it turns out the magical land all this came from wasn't really Heaven or Mt Olympus or Valhalla, it was the unconscious, where all the gods and devils and witches and wizards etc have their true existence. What they really are is archetypes, unconscious forms that can wear many different faces and speak with many different voices but they communicate the powerful messages of the deep unconscious to us in our dreams and sometimes in strange visionary moments in waking life as well, or through meditation or psychedelic drug use (though that can come with its own problems of course).

      If you want to cut through the massiveness of the thread and get right to the core of it, I would start here:




      Over the next few pages I break it all down and explain the essentials of his theories as they relate to dreaming, and to the archetypes and the collective unconscious. When I do one of my big explanatory posts I always give it a title in boldface across the top, so you can skip the posts in between if you want to just get to the meat and potatoes, though the Q&A and comments by others can be pretty explanatory too.

      I write about the archetypes in my dream journal when I have what I consider an archetypal dream - if you read through the dreams just on this page of my DJ you'll see several plus a couple of posts where I was working to understand a series of dreams from my youth about a mysterious plumber who I believe was a Self (higher self) figure trying to help me out. Actually there are a couple of really powerful archetypal dreams at the end of the previous page that lead directly into these entries - mainly just the last 2, Saving my Dad from Drowning and The Fixer Crew.

      I realize this is all a bit steep, but you seem like a man who's up to just about any challenge. I suppose it comes down to your attitude toward psychology, or Jungian psychology in particular, and if you want to delve into so much learning. Maybe look at this as more of a long term thing and meanwhile just learn to think of dream characters as parts of yourself that have messages to communicate. There's more I can say about that without getting into all the Jungian stuff, but I'll do that in another post - this one is long enough!

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      That's a great post....and your posts about the shadow are a good read as well. I have spent some time perusing Jungian philosophy. If my somewhat surficial understanding is correct, Carl sees the unconscious as kind of a storehouse of repressed memories. I do believe that our dreams are expressions of that....and possible more. I have to admit, however, that I do not get very analytical of my remembered dreams. I think that analysis is a flawed approach in a way because of the inherent danger that the analysis, whether subjective or objective, can be skewed by subtle human predispositions.

      I think also that there may be more than repressed stuff hidden away in there. I think a great deal of imagery and information gets into our subconscious over the years without ever making it to memory. I have been exposed to many different things in my years, the majority of which never registered in my conscious mind. I think there is a lot of hidden knowledge inside me and I think I am gaining a form of access to that information through lucid dreaming. I spent time with a nameless character last night and there was a definite transfer of...something....that stuck with me.
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      I was coming in to say that the end of the explanatory posts is here toward the bottom of page 9: Dealing with Neuroses and Complexes - so if you wanted to just read the ones with the bold titles between those two posts that would cover it.

      Very cool that you've already looked into Jung. Most people have a lot of misconceptions about what he really said based on popular misunderstandings. I honestly think I've put together a very comprehensive collection of posts that relay his theories as they pertain to dreams very clearly, from a person who has always been deeply interested in dreams and has also studied brain science as it relates to sleep and dreams. But enough horn-tooting!!

      All that said, I agree that you don't need to study Jungian theory to get meaning from your dreams. The unconscious seems to be very adaptable and can communicate with you in whatever way it needs to as long as you're paying attention and are open-minded about it. Of course as you wander in the depths of the dream realm, you will encounter figures that conform to Jung's descriptions of the Shadow, the Anima, and the Self. You may call them by other names, such as devils, demons, tricksters or just scary dark characters (Shadow figures) or maybe Venus, Isis, or Circe, or possibly old girlfriends or female characters who convey some kind of wisdom or needed lessons (Anima figures) or you may see mysterious figures who seem to hold great power and wisdom, but to speak in riddles (the Self). For me I found it extremely helpful to tap into not only Jung's theories, but also the great ancient wisdom of all the world that was what led him there to begin with and which he studied at great length. In the past people looked inside themselves a lot more than our shallow materialistic society does, and understood far more about these inner figures.

      But I'm doing it again, aren't I? Alright, I'll let it go at that! No more sales pitch I promise. People in here can tell you a lot about what dream characters are and what they convey, without delving into this stuff. I'll try to do that as well, but occasionally I may lean a bit toward the Jungian (I can't always ignore it ).
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 03-03-2019 at 04:48 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      ....

      Shadow and Thunder, Dark and Light, both of them make me whole

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      Sorry to dredge this thread up again (actually I blame GordonFreeman - it was his Likes and quote that brought me back in.)

      I just noticed what you said above Lenscaper:

      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      I have spent some time perusing Jungian philosophy. If my somewhat surficial understanding is correct, Carl sees the unconscious as kind of a storehouse of repressed memories.
      Actually that was more of a Freudian thing, the repressed memories and all. And he was right in so far as it goes, the upper layer of the unconscious does hold repressed memories, but it was Jung who discovered the deeper part, that he called the Collective (or Objective) unconscious - the part that houses the Archetypes. Those aren't repressed memories, they're much more universal and - well, Objective! We all have them, and in the important ways they're the same in all of us - the Wise Old Man, the stalwart young Hero etc.

      They will have different surface characteristics in the dreams of different people, and even show up superficially different from one dream to another for the same person, but they will have the same core traits, even across widely different parts of the world. This is a big part of what cements us together as humankind, we all share this same cast of dream characters, which serve as the foundations for all of our stories, movies, fairy tales, and religions. Otherwise, if all the unconscious held were repressed memories of the individual, we would possibly have no shared means to communicate effectively.

      Ok, I'm harping on this again, aren't I? Sorry! I'll stop here, just couldn't help correcting that ("I can't go to bed now - somebody is wrong on the internet!!") Hey, possible good point for you though Len, maybe now somebody will pop in and post stuff like you actually wanted to hear!
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 03-05-2019 at 04:37 AM.

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      Ok, I feel bad for using your thread to do a monologue about Jung! I'll say something more helpful now.

      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      I have read the advice to be wary of them in general as they can detract from lucidity.....do I have that right?
      Not always true. I know, I'm one of the people who said that, and it's largely true, but sometimes certain DCs can actually help you toward lucidity. You might run across what's known as a Dream Guide or Spirit Guide, and they will actually be helpful and their main purpose does seem to be to help you achieve lucidity (dream guides anyway, not sure about spirit guides). If you do encounter a DG they'll be somehow mysterious and wise, and seem to have a special aura about them, they're more intelligent and independent-minded than the usual DCs.

      I was helped toward lucidity by monkeys and by my 2 old dogs (who are no longer alive in waking reality). In fact, in one dream I was walking through a huge empty warehouse when I saw a bear laying in the corner of a room (bears used to be nightmare creatures for me, this is when that changed). I had learned the trick of flying toward scary creatures in dreams with arms spread wide for a big hug and telling them you love them. Well, I decided to try it (I became lucid as soon as I saw the bear, probably because I wanted to try this).

      As i approached I saw that it wasn't actually a bear, it was 2 dogs laying by each other that had just looked like a bear. This is what's supposed to happen when you show love to dream enemies, they become helpers instead and lose their aggressiveness. It tuned out to be my 2 old dogs Dusty and Star, who looked very similar, both mid-sized grey sheepdogs. I always have a hard time telling them apart in dreams.

      After this, whenever I see a bear in a dream it always makes me lucid now. Well usually - one time it didn't, but that was a different kind of dream and served a very different purpose, about self-development rather than lucidity.

      Let me back up a bit - before these dreams was one with an army of monkeys helping me toward lucidity (at least I believe they were, I didn't achieve it in the dream though). And I was with my dogs in that one I think. Let me see if I can find it - the details are hazy now.

      Bingo! Here it is: Monkeys on the water -- and water in the sky

      Ok yeah, the monkeys turned into dogs that were grey, which linked them to my sheepdogs. Complicated - no wonder I was having trouble remembering it!! So, first monkeys were sort of dream guides for me, then my dogs, and now bears. It's some sort of crazy dream evolution going on here.

      Here's another one, where monkeys actually made me lucid: Monkeys!!! - my 3rd lucid since joining DV!

      ... Aaaand here's the one with the bear that became my dogs: Finally found the 8th lucid in my journals - Bear Sparked Lucidity (from 7-10-10) (now you get to see how badly I misremembered it! )

      Ok, I guess I made up for it. See, once I get off my Jung kick I can actually be helpful!

      _____________

      What the heck, I'll throw in a bonus. Another dream where a bear (and a man in a bedraggled bear suit) made me lucid: LUCID - "BOOM!" Said the man in the bedraggled bear suit.. And "Y U got a headache?"
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 03-05-2019 at 05:40 AM.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Ok, I feel bad for using your thread to do a monologue about Jung! I'll say something more helpful now.
      The discussion of Jungian philosophy has been helpful. I think that is an important perspective for those of us who wish to interpret these dreams.

      Interesting about Dream Guides and Spirit Guides. But aren't these guides originating from somewhere within our subconscious? And doesn't that imply that we already know, at some level, the knowledge that they impart? I'll be on the lookout for both.

      I'm wondering about the more mundane characters. Last night in my fourth and final dream I stood off to the side of a snack bar and watched a number of people come up and order food. I would not say I was fully lucid in this dream but I was fully there. I did not recognize and of these DCs and none of them interacted with me in the slightest. But they were all very specific people with individual characteristics and mannerisms, as were the two ladies behind the counter.

      The dream before that contained a very lucid event with a DC that I knew well as he is a work colleague. He drove us off a cliff in his car. That's seemed about right for him. He said to me very clearly...."Guess that's it for us, Mate." (He is Australian). I said, just as clearly....."I don't think so. This is a dream." I stepped out of the car into the air and the car passed down out of my consciousness. I remember looking down calmly and seeing a river valley far, far below me. Then, of course, I woke up. That DC was an easy one to understand.
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      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      Interesting about Dream Guides and Spirit Guides. But aren't these guides originating from somewhere within our subconscious? And doesn't that imply that we already know, at some level, the knowledge that they impart? I'll be on the lookout for both.
      Yes, any knowledge that gets imparted in a dream or otherwise does come from the unconscious, unless you believe in telepathy or other more supernatural things. Dreams work through symbolism - symbols are the language of the unconscious. So we need to learn to interpret them if we want to understand what's being communicated. At least in 'normal' dreams.

      But I do believe that if you develop some good lucidity it opens new channels of communication between the hemispheres. Basically the left hemisphere is the conscious mind - linear, logical and linguistic, and the right hemisphere is the unconscious - creative, intuitive, and unfocused. One of the main differences is the way they focus attention on things. The conscious mind works like a powerful searchlight, very bright but it can only focus on one thing at a time, while the unconscious is much dimmer but very diffuse, it casts a scattered light all around and lights (pays attention to) everything all at once. When the conscious mind is switched 'on' (when we're awake) you can't notice the dim light of the unconscious, even though it's always there. But if you become lucid in dreams, you're bringing some of that conscious awareness into the realm of the unconscious - sort of like carrying a lantern into a dark forest. And I think they begin to communicate better the more this happens.

      So, to turn that into an actual answer to your question, yes - the unconscious is a repository for a lot of knowledge, wisdom and understanding that the conscious mind doesn't normally have access to. Not only repressed memories, but all of memory (while the conscious only remembers little bits and pieces). Apparently the unconscious, because it's so unfocused and can process everything all-at-once, remembers and processes everything you've ever experienced, whereas the conscious remembers precious little. But normally the unconscious is unable to communicate effectively with the conscious, since it speaks in a symbolic and ancient language of metaphor and images, while the conscious wants everything in words.

      Ergo, this is why wisdom that we think must be coming from 'outside' of us is actually coming from the unconscious. It really IS outside of us, since we think the conscious mind is all we are. People either aren't aware of the unconscious, or they think it's something much smaller and less powerful than it really is. They don't understand that the conscious mind is just a recent outgrowth from the vast and deep unconscious. Instead there's this common misunderstanding that the 'subconscious' is some small storage shed in the much larger conscious mind.

      I might have overexplained this (who, me? )


      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      I'm wondering about the more mundane characters. Last night in my fourth and final dream I stood off to the side of a snack bar and watched a number of people come up and order food. I would not say I was fully lucid in this dream but I was fully there. I did not recognize and of these DCs and none of them interacted with me in the slightest. But they were all very specific people with individual characteristics and mannerisms, as were the two ladies behind the counter.
      Isn't it amazing the complexity the unconscious is capable of? And it just creates it spontaneously and maintains it all as we interact with it. Boggles the mind. However, when you're lucid, if you confront some of these NPCs (non-playable characters to borrow a video game term) you'll find they don't have much intelligence or flexibility. Ask them questions and they just give weird nonsensical answers or walk away, or maybe start freaking out and trying to do weird things to get your attention off of lucidity. Dream guides are different - they seem to have a full range of intelligence and to be able to directly answer questions, and to have a mind of their own. It's like it's an avatar of your subconscious given a dream body and able to assist you directly.

      Once when I announced that I was lucid in a dream some random lady walking near me started trying to kill herself just to get me to sink back out of lucidity from shock. Lol - the old tears and self-harm trick! And it worked.

      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      The dream before that contained a very lucid event with a DC that I knew well as he is a work colleague. He drove us off a cliff in his car. That's seemed about right for him. He said to me very clearly...."Guess that's it for us, Mate." (He is Australian). I said, just as clearly....."I don't think so. This is a dream." I stepped out of the car into the air and the car passed down out of my consciousness. I remember looking down calmly and seeing a river valley far, far below me. Then, of course, I woke up. That DC was an easy one to understand.
      Good reaction! It's a shame I've never been able to help anybody when I'm lucid - I can never get my friends (DCs) to realize they're dreaming (well, maybe once or twice actually) or to stop any self-destructive behavior. But I think those kind of DCs are low-quality, in terms of intelligence. Just quick sketches the unconscious threw into a normal dream before you become lucid.

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      There are some real gems in your last post, Darkmatters.

      That whole lantern image really works for me. One of the things I am working on is trying to balance the waking world with the dream world. To incorporate your imagery, I want to dim that daytime lantern a bit while at the same time getting a bit of a more focused light in the night world. I know I'm drifting into dream yoga with that. I feel as though that super focused beam of consciousness keeps us constantly reacting to the stimuli around us when we are awake, preventing us from living in a more centered and non distracted manner.

      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      When the conscious mind is switched 'on' (when we're awake) you can't notice the dim light of the unconscious, even though it's always there. But if you become lucid in dreams, you're bringing some of that conscious awareness into the realm of the unconscious - sort of like carrying a lantern into a dark forest.
      I'm thinking of the flow from the other direction as well............ that less of one and more of the other will create a nice balance in my life and help me get a bit more centered during my waking dream, as the Buddhists say. I'm counting on my DCs to draw out some of that hidden wisdom (that I already have) and with a more balanced conscious/subconscious between the two "dreams" maybe I can create some sort of conduit between them.

      What do you think of all that?

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      It all sounds right on to me!

      Since you mentioned the Buddhists, I also think it's a great idea to meditate - that's basically a way of quieting down the over-busy left-brain chatterbox of endless words we normally have blasting through the mind and obliterating the quiet and subtle messages from the right brain. I've done some of it and studied methods for it in the past, and starting to renew my practice now, but I've recently learned what you want to do is carry that meditation mind-state into your normal daily activities as much as you can - shut off the words in your mind as you're doing things that don't require logical thought. Especially repetitive mindless tasks like mowing the lawn (something I'm sure you're quite familiar with).

      I sometimes think back to the show Kung Fu (I think you're of an age to remember that one?) and I think "What would Caine do?"

      though I think I'll stop short of carrying a massive red-hot brazier between my inner forearms

      I started reading an amazing book about meditation called The Power of Now by Eckhardt Tolle. Highly recommended.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      I sometimes think back to the show Kung Fu (I think you're of an age to remember that one?) and I think "What would Caine do?"
      Quickly as you can...snatch the pebble from my hand....
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      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      I'm counting on my DCs to draw out some of that hidden wisdom (that I already have)
      I don't know if you covered that part yet, but instead of pray to encounter a DC, you can make your own DCs and I wonder really what will happen if you accidentally create DC of yourself

      But be careful things can get really wicked sometimes

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      Quote Originally Posted by GordanFreeman View Post
      I don't know if you covered that part yet, but instead of pray to encounter a DC, you can make your own DCs
      Quite honestly, I don't have that level of control just yet. That is a seriously intriguing concept, though. I met a woman in my second LD that seemed to have something to tell me. She appeared to be a bit frustrated when I walked away from her in my ignorance. Perhaps I'll set the intention to meet her again.

      But be careful things can get really wicked sometimes
      Forewarned is definitely forearmed.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      I sometimes think back to the show Kung Fu (I think you're of an age to remember that one?) and I think "What would Caine do?"
      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      Quickly as you can...snatch the pebble from my hand....
      I was remembering last night......that show was on Thursday nights. I was teaching a T'ai Chi class back then, a pretty large group. Some of the folks would come back to my place after class. We would practice a bit more in my big kitchen and then pull up the chairs around the TV to watch Kung Fu.
      The more I gaze....the more I crave to see

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      Quote Originally Posted by lenscaper View Post
      Forewarned is definitely forearmed.


      This guy must have been extremely forewarned:





      And yeah, actually Kung Fu was a really good show! I had forgotten until something made me look up old episodes on YouTube. They really don't make 'em like that anymore. It's easy to make fun of because of all the Grasshopper and everything, but extremely well made (in spite of being ripped off from Bruce Lee who created the idea and was supposed to be the star).
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 03-06-2019 at 01:02 PM.
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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      This guy must have been extremely forewarned:

      Lol this guy totally resemble Popeye the sailor My favorite cartoon.

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      Quote Originally Posted by StarSeeker View Post
      Lol this guy totally resemble Popeye the sailor My favorite cartoon.

      Hey StarSeeker...that guy is Robin Williams (RIP). He played The Sailor Man in a movie.
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      A rather... unfortunate movie, that I was hoping would be better. (<- note squinky eye)

      Well ok, I did KIND OF like it - especially Olive's big musical number: He Needs Me
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 03-07-2019 at 03:54 AM.

    20. #20
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      ....With A Sense Of Humor

      After a long and not particularly lucid dream I was looking for my car. I got to a parking lot but everything was a bit hazy....no car. Then, from way at the end of the lot....partially hidden in the haze, came a voice......"Hey, Steve! Looking for your car?" I could just barely make her out, sitting on the steps of a building, but I knew she was smiling.

      "Yeah." Much more lucid now.

      "Well I think they towed it."

      I swear she was chuckling.
      The more I gaze....the more I crave to see

      lucid days....lucid nights

    21. #21
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      My most wanted thing I want to dream about is characters from Bleach. I always wanted to interact in some ways such as speaking with them and playing sports with them. Unfortunately, it makes it even difficult for me to visualize (or dream) about them.

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